Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Alleged Comedian Calls Prequel Fans Worse Than Pedophiles, Racists, Etc..: Fandom Snores (Commentary)

November 16, 2017

Normally I avoid “guess who trashed the prequels today” kind of posts unless they’re about people working on Star Wars in an official capacity. But this is so horrible I couldn’t let it pass and it gives me a golden opportunity to unload on other things.

Patton Oswalt has long been a prequel basher and once infamously said that he wished he could go back in time and beat George Lucas to death with a shovel so those films wouldn’t be made. Today though he stooped to a low that not even Simon Pegg or Wil Wheaton could reach if they were crawling on Hell’s linoleum floor. Apparently trying to be topical and funny, he tweeted re Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore: “Homophobia, pedophilia and NOW white supremacy? If he admits to liking the STAR WARS prequels I’m pulling my support.”

That’s right guys, he’s saying you’re worse than a pedophile, a racist, or a gay basher for liking movies he doesn’t and apparently over 3000 of his followers agree. No word on whether this applies to the new Mrs. Oswalt who voiced Barriss Offee in the Clone Wars. So what does the fandom have to say about this slander of a significant part of it, or trivializing serious issues with a bad joke? Or Lucasfilm?

*Chirping crickets.*

Aside from Naboo News and a few other fans, it’s been a big collective “meh.” I’m not saying everyone needs to send Oswalt death threats or get him tossed off Twitter but no one seems to care either. Just like they didn’t seem to care about author Saladin Ahmed had posted some vulgarisms about Lucas on Twitter and called him a racist (Ahmed has a story in the upcoming Canto Bright anthology) and when questioned about it, the chief of books at Lucasfilm literally played dumb. Sure some fans were livid but too many were like, “Oh well, it’s just one guy I gotta buys the bookz.” A few people grumbled about Wil Wheaton being included in the Certain Point of View anthology but for the most part fans either had nothing to say or bought the book anyway (I’m aware there’s a story in it with Qui-Gon but I’m sorry, that’s not good enough). Lucasfilm has also hired people like Gary Whitta who had some nasty things to say about Lucas online and Chuck Wendig who has to be about the worst ambassador for any brand ever.

I get that fans are wary of saying the wrong thing on social media. It’s an uphill battle to mess with anyone who’s famous because they have thousands of fans who will swarm on you. In addition, Twitter is quick to suspend or ban those who irritate or upset celebrities.

There are also a lot of people who don’t want to say anything because they want to be “positive.”  They think that criticizing something makes them somehow disloyal.

That said, I’ve observed there are exactly two things nowadays that DO get fans outraged, at least on social media:

1. EA nickel and diming gamers in its Battlefront II game, complete with setting a record for the most downvoted post ever on Reddit.

2. Any fan who says or posts something that offends certain fans’ political or cultural/social views.

But fans have no time to care a whit about Lucas’s legacy, which is why Lucasfilm keeps hiring guys like Oswalt to write for them or appear in their movies or t.v. shows. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it happened! And they have no reason not to because it’s clear to them you will keep giving them your money and time regardless.

In the meantime, I can’t be bothered to get off the couch about anything else regarding fandom or Star Wars anymore. If you don’t care, why should I?

From My Point Of View, It’s A Problem: A Commentary

July 28, 2017

The upcoming anthology of short stories based on ANH–originally dubbed “Operation Blue Milk” then revealed as “A Certain Point Of View”–didn’t interest me much because I’ve basically given up reading Del Rey’s new wave of licensed fiction.  But if there was any glimmer of interest at all it was extinguished with the full list of people brought on to write for this thing.  I don’t dislike everyone on there obviously; some of them have been involved with stuff that I enjoyed.  Others I have issues with but the most galling was bringing on actor Wil Wheaton.  No Timothy Zahn or James Luceno or Mike Stackpole but they had pages to spare for this guy.

Really, Del Rey and Lucasfilm?  Really????

Whenever somebody at Lucasfilm tries to claim that they love the prequels equally and treat them with respect, you’ve got to ask why then are the most notorious prequel bashers rewarded with prime gigs?  Simon Pegg got to guest star on The Clone Wars and scored a cameo in TFA.  Now a prequel basher known for another franchise gets to publish Star Wars fiction while scores of experienced writers, both professional and fan, never get the call.  As someone who has been trying for two years to get in the market with my own stuff, it’s HARD.  But maybe to get a deal with Del Rey I should just start the Prequel Hate Society and bash the films every chance I get.

What’s problematic about this is that we all know that they would never do this for anyone who publicly bashes the original trilogy, TFA, or Rogue One.  Ever.  To the people in charge, the prequels are expendable in a way the others are not and they don’t care because the movies don’t mean as much to them as the OT does and the overlords in Burbank aren’t going to tolerate anyone bashing their films.

Look, people at Lucasfilm:  admit it.  The prequels are second banana to your company, loved by a tiny few, liked by some, tolerated with gritted teeth by most.  J.W. Rinzler’s late blog indicated a lot of people there were not fond of AOTC at the very least and you know what, it shows.  It has shown for years.  Stop gas lighting us and stop making excuses.

I’m half tempted to get a bunch of pro-prequel fan fiction writers to put together an anthology…

Funko Pop General Grievous Walgreens Exclusive On The Way?

September 10, 2016

It’s on Reddit, so take it with a hunk of salt but this appears to be a list of upcoming Funko Pop figures.  Among the many figures listed are a couple of Walgreens exclusives, Sabine from “Rebels” and good ol’ General Grievous.  I have no idea exactly when these will be out, but I imagine it’ll be sometime within the next couple of months if the batch includes Halloween-themed figures, NYCC exclusives, and NFL figures.

Meanwhile, Funko ran a poll on which prequel figure should be included in an upcoming Smuggler’s Box and Anakin ended up winning, narrowly beating out Grievous.  Hmm…

The Frustration With Bashing: Commentary

September 1, 2016

Maybe it’s because prequel fans are becoming more vocal (“The Prequels Strike Back” is due out soon), maybe it’s because there’s always another Star Wars movie around the corner now, but it seems to me there has been a bit more hostility toward the prequels in the media and in corresponding comments over the past few weeks.  I don’t go looking for it, if you can believe it, but I’m finding it.

I admit, it’s frustrating as all get out.  It is upsetting and discouraging to see the same tropes repeated over and over.  I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way.  I liken it to driving down the street, minding your own business, when some jerk in his Midlife Crisis or Douche-mobile cuts you off or needlessly tailgates you even though you’re going over the speed limit yourself or almost causes an accident.  Honk your horn and he flips you off, then speeds away laughing, because he knows you can’t or won’t do anything about it.  Only in this case, said jerk is a big time celebrity with his entourage following in big Escalades and they almost run you off the road trying to keep up with their boss.  To add insult to injury, the cops pull YOU over for going 37 in a 35 mph zone while they let the celebrity get away (probably because this is L.A. County and they know full well any star will get immediately released due to “overcrowding,” but I digress).  The celebrity is the popular geek site editor-in-chief, Hollywood trade or entertainment journalist, or someone else big in geek circles.  The entourage are the bashers who attack you in the comments or on Twitter for daring to stick up for the prequels.  The cops are other fans or even the powers that be.

That feeling of frustration when you’ve been on the receiving end of rude or reckless behavior on the road is the same frustration you might feel when you encounter media prequel bashing.  That feeling is powerlessness.  It’s never easy as fans to see people not only trash what you love but by extension trash you because you don’t agree with them.  It’s not easy to see how this has had effects far beyond some random guy spewing on a blog.  One can never expect everybody to love everything but as far as I’m concerned, the frustration especially comes from a lack of opportunity to give another perspective.  There have been those willing to break from the narrative but right now, there’s not only still a great deal of hostility aimed at them, I have to wonder what chances a prequel fan would have ever getting hired as some media outlet’s “geek editor” or at Entertainment Weakly, Hollyweird Report, Variety, i09, Huffington Post, Daily Dot, The Mary Sue, etc..  Not so much because that’s the first thing they’ll ask in an interview but if it were to ever come out, I think either you won’t get hired or you will never be asked to write about Star Wars.

On other sites, those with “heretical” views are punished with a bunch of flaming, trolling, and other obnoxiousness from commenters.  It doesn’t exactly encourage those to  take a stand.

At this point I don’t care what they think; what I do care about is that one, we’re not allowed to enjoy the prequels without a bunch of strangers telling us we’re wrong and dumb, and two,  the bashing continues to influence people.  The prequels are great films and they deserve to be judged fairly, not having their reputation determined by a bunch of shallow “geeks” with a big soapbox and a bizarre axe to grind.




My (Further) Thoughts On The Trailer (Spoiler Alert For Those Staying Pure)

October 20, 2015

If you’re avoiding anything about TFA, including the trailers, go click on something else now and definitely do not read the comments.


Here are some of my additional thoughts:

What has continued to strike me about the third TFA trailer overall is its somber tone. Even ROTS’s trailers still had a touch of pulp. There’s no humor, no comic bookish arch exchanges, no sense of wonder and high adventure, no silliness and whimsy except for a couple of peeks of BB-8. This almost had the tone of a dystopian YA novel-turned-into-a-movie. I thought it was interesting someone on the nets said it reminded him of the trailer for “Divergent.” While the second trailer in April had that pulpy grand adventure exhilarating tone we’ve become accustomed to in previous Star Wars trailers, this was like listening to the slow, slow-paced version of Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules. In fact, you could probably set the trailer to that cover of “Mad World!” Is this the overall tone of the film? Or is it JJ Abrams being his schmaltzy self? If you’re familiar with the Abrams oeuvre, you know he loves emotional displays like that. I just hope that people get to crack a few jokes or smile every now and then. That said, I absolutely loved the part with Han and Leia. Sure, it looks like they’re not having a good day but then again, Leia might be giving him a farewell hug before he goes off on some mission and gets emotional at him leaving again.

The visual effects look pretty good and nothing appears “old” to me at all.

The trailer focuses on the ST3 and Kylo Ren, which is fair enough since they are carrying this thing. You learn a little bit more about them but not very much. Ren is confirmed as a Vader fanboy but what does he mean by “Imma finish what you started” (paraphrasing)? Someone commenting in the open thread about the trailer noted that Han shows a very interesting character arc, going from being a total skeptic in ANH to being the one who brings the “story” to this next generation. Interesting indeed but the scene where he’s talking to the noobs about the Dark Side and the Jedi had me a little concerned. I mean, I understand Finn the First Order guy not knowing about this stuff after being steeped in propaganda for a good portion of his life but why doesn’t Rey know? Is she just playing dumb or what? Then it concerned me that none of the new heroes are Skywalkers. I don’t want the only remaining Skywalker a villain with about a 100% chance of death. That’s a copout. And it makes this crew no more special or consequential than if you had Iron Man, Doctor Who, and Katniss Everdeen in those roles instead. Star Wars is at its heart a family saga, it’s not just a sf/action series with interchangeable heroes. Kathleen Kennedy seemed to get that recently in an interview, but this trailer doesn’t allay my concerns on that part.

It also doesn’t allay my concerns about this being a very safe, very contained remake of ANH just with more 2015 angst. The scope doesn’t seem as “big” as previous films. Maybe there’s a lot more to be seen but you’d think they’d invent a new ship or two or weapons in three decades’ time or come up with a unique planet.

I still haven’t decided what I think of Williams’s new stuff. It doesn’t sound like the usual Star Wars music.

At times the trailer looks familiar and at other times, I can see the technique or style is very different. Some of the Abrams-isms in camera movement, angles, framing, etc. are quite apparent to me and I hope that while viewing the film overall it doesn’t become a distraction. I get that Abrams is going to put his own stamp on things but Irwin Kershner and Richard Marquand weren’t so radically different from Lucas you felt like you were watching something totally different.

Oh well, it’s just a trailer and they can’t all be like the prequel ones. The trailers for the first set of SW films wouldn’t have inspired anyone to see them but those were made in an era when trailers weren’t that big of a deal. What matters is the finished product, which in the end might turn out to be just fine.

By the way, where’s Luke?

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

July 14, 2015

It’s not my intent to make it Persecution Week at SWPAS but even before the SDCC panel, I’d intended to address the animated LEGO Droid Tales miniseries airing on Disney X D. A while back I’d seen the trailer for the show online and there was a joke where the characters snored through Threepio explaining the beginning of TPM. I saw the writing on the wall and didn’t watch. Sure enough, viewers reported that the prequels got dragged through the mud, including Amanda Ward and Jason Ward of Making Star The show’s writer Michael Price tweeted back to Jason Ward the following:

I have no problem laughing with Star Wars. I liked Robot Chicken. I would’ve liked the Family Guy stuff more had it not been for the creepy molester jokes.

Laughing at Star Wars? Meh, not so much. If you look at the old Mad, Crazy, Cracked, etc. takes on the OT, Mad’s jokes could be brutal. Which is why I preferred the gentler Cracked. (Though Mad did that to everything.) When it comes to laughing at the PT in particular, well, an awful lot of what we’ve had to put up with over the past 16 years doesn’t exactly leave me with a funny bone for that sort of thing.

It’s annoying enough if it’s an entity outside of the official realm mocking the prequels or Star Wars in general. But it’s extremely disappointing when that mockery gets an official rubber stamp. And they wonder why many of us think there’s an anti-PT campaign behind promoting TFA!

Sorry, I won’t be watching. I’ve had enough of this sort of thing.

Prequel Fans Have Heard The Dog Whistle

July 13, 2015

Friday’s San Diego Comic Con TFA panel was carefully constructed to generate positive, even ecstatic buzz. All of those panels are meant to do that, whether it’s a rare appearance from a huge movie star, the debut of a two-fisted trailer, an ensemble cast appearing together, or goofy surprise stunts like the new Spiderman showing up to ask a question in costume.

If you went by the happy, even joyous tweets from those who attended the panel and the free show afterwards (complete with fireworks) or the geek media reports, it was the best thing since sliced bread. I felt a bit stung that I’d missed out, especially on the concert afterwards. It was in an outdoor area where I could’ve seen and heard the event, even if I hadn’t attended the panel. As I put it on Twitter, it felt like a friend threw a party but didn’t invite me.

But it’s Monday and instead of every Star Wars fan chattering excitedly about what we’re getting in five months, a lot of prequel/saga fans in particular are steamed over the tone of the panel and the behind-the-scenes video shown to the mostly-unwashed masses in Hall H. There were things in that video we’d not seen before, like a MUCH better shot of TFA Leia and various creatures. Larry Kasdan at least had the decency to bring up George Lucas a couple of times and acknowledge his genius. The film’s villains were introduced for the first time. Having Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford together again in one place was a reunion most of us thought would never happen. The rest of it though was relentless emphasis on “practical effects,” “real sets,” “real deserts,” and “tangible” stuff. Plus the video confirmed the presence of prequel basher/bully Simon Pegg. We’ve heard it before at Celebration in April and in various interviews but there was something about this particular panel that broke the eopie’s back and many people noticed the shade being cast on the prequels. Look at some of these comments and memes…it’s not just me or just the people who comment on SWPAS. I didn’t tell these folks what to say or believe and I don’t know most of them:

Today Clone Corridor posted this piece that flat out calls the panel/video content prequel bashing. I posted a link this morning on the SWPAS Facebook page and now it’s all over my feed. I haven’t seen anything like it.

As most of you have realized, this is calculated. They’re the top echelon’s talking points about TFA and they are most certainly aimed at tickling the ears of those who hated the prequels. I have no doubt about it. They cannot come out and say, “The prequels were a horrible mistake, we’re really sorry, and we’re going to do it right this time.” It would humiliate George Lucas. So they are being more subtle, promising they are going back to the old cookie recipe of a “used world” look, 1970s-1980s visual effects, on location filming, and bringing back the Star Wars “we all grew up with.” Ah, that’s another popular talking point…this has everything we loved about the original movies. It’s like listening to that Weezer song “Back To The Shack”: we’re sorry for our previous efforts! We’re getting back to basics and our roots, guys!

The emphasis on practical effects over CGI and green screen deliberately plays off of the prequel haters’ argument that CGI and green screen were liabilities. It’s also deliberately contrary to the PR behind the prequels that emphasized all of the cool stuff one could do with digital effects. Most of you reading this know the prequels had a mix of digital and practical effects. Even ROTS, which was the only Star Wars film without on location principal photography, used real world shots mixed in with digital and practical effects. But why didn’t this panel or the one at Celebration or in any of the media interviews about the film make the point that this film isn’t doing anything different from its predecessors? Because they know if the anti-PT crowd hears “we’re doing the same thing as Eps I-III,” that crowd will turn on TFA in a hurry. Disney and Lucasfilm’s top brass live in mortal fear of the hateboys. They know what these keyboard barbarians are capable of doing. So the suits are putting on the charm offensive, hoping to win over those disaffected fans by promising to give them “their” Star Wars back. And part of that is relegating the prequels to the crazy uncle attic, where they can only come out for lesser-seen material like books and comics. In four days at SDCC, I saw virtually nothing prequel-related from the various licensed booths. I’ll bet a moisture farm you won’t see a single PT alum anywhere near any of TFA’s official premieres (meanwhile, OT alum did show up for prequel premieres).

Part of the reason they are going the “Back To The Shack” route is of course to gin up anticipation without having to tell anyone anything about the movie. Friday’s panel was very light on substantive information. But trying so hard to win over OT-only base and keeping the mystery box shut is kicking up the hornet’s nest of prequel fans. We’re not stupid. We can hear the dog whistles loud and clear. Even those willing to give the benefit of the doubt are none too pleased at the direction marketing has taken. I’ve written before they think they can get away with it because most of us will see TFA at least once anyway. After what I’ve seen online over the past weekend, I’m starting to wonder if Disney/Lucasfilm has gone too far and if fans continue to get riled up like this, they can’t taken for granted anymore.

What’s really dumb about this whole thing is that Disney and Lucasfilm should worry less about geezer fanboys and more about kids whose formative Star Wars experiences were with the prequels and especially Clone Wars. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but at SDCC yesterday I was sitting at a table eating lunch and across from me were two boys with their dads. The boys were around eight or nine years old and they’d just bought some Clone Wars stuff in the exhibit hall. They weren’t talking about the OT or TFA, they were talking about Obi-Wan and Anakin.

We’ve Seen This Movie Before: Commentary

April 20, 2015

When the TFA second teaser traile debuted on Thursday it was met with joy, glee, and excitement. Admittedly it was not hard to get caught up in the excitement. I did not camp out overnight at Celebration but I did get in one of the overflow rooms and saw it on a big screen anyway. I spent hours in line just to see the few costumes and models from the film. I even engaged in rabid fan behavior in the Celebration store, like a rat fighting for the last crumb of bread on the floor, in a failed attempt to snag one of the t-shirts. That story is for another day.

But of course people were thrilled…it was the first glimpse of anyone from Eps IV-VI since 1983 and it was more substantive in terms of presenting the post-ROTJ GFFA than the November peep show. Sure, it looks cool. Luke’s narrative sounds cool. There’s a mix of familiar faces (Han and Chewie’s anyway) and a bit more of the new kids in town. We got to see the new villain and more neo-stormtroopers. There’s a chase scene with the Falcon. There’s the Hollywood staple of people running from a big flaming fireball. There’s Williams’s music. What’s there not to love?

Yet later on when I was talking about the trailer with a friend at a booth, he said I sounded a bit hesitant. Well, if I had to nitpick the trailer I felt that since it is the Skywalker family saga, I’d rather have seen actual Skywalkers rather than their hands. It also doesn’t reassure me that this won’t be Rehash of the Jedi. Based on what I saw in the costume exhibit and what was in the trailer, there’s going to be a thin line between the repetition that’s part of myth and just plugging back into a familiar conflict. That story is also for another day.

I told my friend this is strangers making Star Wars and I won’t be reassured they have it right until I actually see the film. I also told my friend that it seemed to me the fan reaction was going to set people up for disappointment and backlash again.

We’ve seen this movie before and it came out November 1998. The reaction to the first TPM trailer was very much like the reaction to this trailer a few days ago. The media went nuts reporting about it and the hype machine for TPM fired into overdrive. People were saying this was going to be Biblical, epic, the greatest movie ever, a return to idyllic childhoods, the cure for cancer, and other over-the-top gushing. Then they got mad when the actual film didn’t deliver on their wild-eyed expectations and they’ve stayed mad for 16 years. This time around, TFA is going to be Biblical, epic, the greatest movie ever, a return to idyllic childhoods, the cure for cancer, a return to 1970s filmmaking (no thanks to Lucasfilm’s/Bad Robot’s own marketing), a rebuke against Lucas and the prequels, a retcon of the prequels so that they don’t exist anymore, and whatever the hell else they expect. I’m going to say right now that opinions on the film will be all over the place. Oh sure, I think Abrams will try to skate by on frenetic pacing, action scenes, nostalgia, and whiz bang, which will impress some people but it still won’t save him from the same kind of inflated expectations that TPM faced. Having read some spoilers/rumors, I can tell you if some of them are true, there will be fans who will find the fates/roles of the OT3 upsetting. And there’s at least one CGI character in the film.

It’s not to rain on anyone’s parade but to caution people. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised than to be bitterly disappointed.

Promoting My Rant

January 28, 2015

On my Holocron page, I’ve posted a rant about conspiracies, rumors, and nefarious plans for the saga. I do a bit of prequel talk too.

Open Thread: Disney Ditched Lucas’s Ideas

January 20, 2015

We’ll see if the Disney suits try and walk this back or reassure those who still care that George Lucas’s intentions for the post-ROTJ trilogy are followed, but Cinema Blend’s scoop that Disney took Lucas’s treatments, likely for the whole trilogy, and tossed ’em in a shredder is quite disturbing to me. One of the last things I want for Star Wars is it to turn into some generic sci-fi action bull puckey, which I guess is what they want. No ring pattern, no tone poems, no symphonic pattern.

I have a BAD feeling about this.

Update: Here’s more of what I think.